Improving children’s literacy through shared book reading

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I’ve read Green Eggs and Ham so many times that I can repeat it word for word. Same for Good Night Moon and Hop on Pop. My life would be infinitely better if I never have to see those books again! Research shows, however, that kids need the parent-child interaction that happens while reading books together.
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Research shows preschoolers who watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood develop social and emotional skills

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Parents, take heart. Not all TV is bad. New research finds that watching America’s favorite tiger can be good for your developing child.

You remember Mr. Rogers, don’t you? The red sweater. The shoes. The songs. Your kids may not know who he is, but they likely know who Daniel Tiger is. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is the animated descendant of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and features children of several characters from the original Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
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Background TV and children’s language development

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In many American homes the TV is on most of the time even when nobody is watching. This means that toddlers are often playing with toys and doing what toddlers do with the TV on in the background. Recent research shows that such “background” TV exposure may actually stunt children’s language development.
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Porn, parents, and kids’ self-worth

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Pornography is a near-mainstream part of life for American adolescents. By the time they reach college, research suggests that about 50% of our kids will regularly view pornography. This means that whether your child looks at pornography or not, they will be affected by it in some way. For those who don’t view pornography, they’ll likely date somebody who does, and this has been shown to have negative effects on self-esteem and relationship quality, among other things. Sounds daunting for a parent of four daughters like me.
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Un-super heroes

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When I was young I wanted to be Daniel LaRusso. You remember Daniel. Karate Kid. Mr. Miyagi and Johnny. I remember watching Karate Kid with my brother on several occasions. After Daniel wins the tournament at the end of the show, my brother and I would inevitably start practicing karate on each other. We perfected the crane move that Daniel used to beat Johnny at the end. We got so good at karate (or so we thought), that one time I got mad at him for spilling grape juice on my favorite blanket so I punched him as hard as I could in a place where I knew it would hurt. I felt so bad about what I did, so I begged him to hit me back. While I can’t remember if he hit me back or not, I do think this is the first instance that I can recall in which I was directly influenced by media exposure. I was imitating my hero.
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Timing of “the talk”

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We thought we had explained where babies come from thoroughly enough. But my daughter then looked at my wife and I with expectant brown eyes and said, “But how are babies made?” We each took a deep breath and figured that if she didn’t learn it from us she’d learn it from TV anyway, so we had the talk. We hadn’t even had the Santa talk yet! At 8 years old I thought it might be a bit early for the talk, but then I conducted some research that showed me that the timing of parent-child conversations about topics commonly seen in the media can make a huge difference.
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